The summer evenings, the night markets of Provence fill the stalls of artisans of all kinds. On the ports of the Mediterranean or in the alleys of provence, this is the time where the passers-by stroll through the artisan soaps, colorful, old books, the smell of nougat and macaroons, the bags and the jingle of the hand-made jewellery. All under the starry sky of the south of France. But this year, the atmosphere is a little different. Morose even, some might say.
The majority of artisans has found a decline in the attendance of the night markets, in particular in the week, where some complain that sometimes come. The lack of tourists has deeply affected their activity, and the local population cannot fill this void. Some also complain of security measures, and above all, wearing a mask, which, according to them, only serve to complicate the lives of clients. The atmosphere is not at the party.
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town halls to the bedside of traders
To facilitate the lives of the artisans and creators, the city of Martigues has decided to put in place a registration system " on the map ", which does not require them to be present every week : "It is very random, they come when they can, " says the representative of the town hall. "The concept has changed a bit ", she adds, especially regarding the sense of circulation, in order to obtain a more open space and promote the flow of passers-by. The number of exhibitors has been reduced to twenty, to "a market of more qualitative," says common. At Fos-sur-Mer, the number of exhibitors has also been reduced, from about 35 to about twenty. And the priority has therefore been given to the elders. The size of the stands was also limited to five meters for a better respect of social distancing. Attendance is obviously down, especially the week, with a public that is much more local, explains the office of tourism. It adds that the priority remains to " make it work for merchants."
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other municipalities have made the choice to expand the market space, to accommodate the same number of exhibitors, while respecting social distancing. This is the case in Sanary-sur-Mer, where, again, it says it wants to make it work for the artisans, to help them to earn a living. Salon-de-Provence, the number of exhibitors is even rising. The markets, including night markets, are in fact among the only events to still take place. The artisans come from far and wide to work there.
The artisans hit hard
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Frane Pannetier, based in Arles, runs the company that bears his name : The Macarons of Frane. It manufactures and wholesale supplies of macaroons and other delicacies to many shows, fairs and festivals. But with the cancellation of many of these events, the night markets are used as a last resort : "It is catastrophic, everything is cancelled, it will remain only that. "It is estimated to have lost 80 % of its turnover compared to last year. And its production is increased from 500 to 30 kilos per week.
Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, the night market of the creators of the Tuesday evening "has nothing to do compared to last year," admits the tourism office of les Alpilles. The public has changed : many more French, some Belgians and Germans, and no more American, very present in the last year. "There are no tourists !" exclaims Valerie Beauquis, designer bags and jewelry, for which the markets were accounting for half of its turnover. She also realized that a lot of holidaymakers come on a short period of time, rarely more than a week, and have a budget more limited. The few events in which she was able to participate require them to do a lot of kilometres. Based in Nîmes, she goes regularly in the Vaucluse, the Bouches-du-Rhône or Var. In short, a lot of movement to try to have some money coming in.
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Hopes and frustrations
During the containment, Pauline, Valerie, Sabrina and Frane have been able to count on the aid granted to the independent, in the amount of 1 500 euros until June. Despite it all, Pauline knows that she will have "no salary this year," she says, a little dépitée. It still remains optimistic : "We earn less, but it will come, and we are happy to have returned to work. "Frane is more critical : this sum enabled him to cover some of the costs, but still insufficient for his taste. And to add : "there are too many restrictions. "So well that she has seen several of his colleagues decide to change careers, to take up" jobs fixed ".
But not all are unhappy. Lucie Bidart, creative articles zero waste, is rather satisfied with its containment. A seamstress, she has been busy with the manufacturing of masks, in addition to orders placed by some clients. "I thought it was going to be cata, but I'm happy. The masks have helped also. It's such a pleasure to work in such conditions. "This summer, she participates in the night market of Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, where she said that she was also satisfied with the situation. Before adding : "It is a very special year. There is a little tension among the artisans, by fear of not earning enough money, and among customers, who are sometimes afraid because of the Covid. "And if Valerie Beauquis is unpleasant wearing a mask in times of extreme heat, she wants to avoid the release for not having to undergo a new period of crisis. All the artisans have already begun to register for the Christmas markets : "It is necessary to be responsible, or many companies will have to put the key under the door. "
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